Converting dinette into a "U" with more accessible storage. - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-24-2008, 02:16 AM   #1
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So the next big project is to convert our Scamp's dinette into a "U" shape dinette with new, more comfortable foam & fabric, a new table, and exterior access hatches to the space under the benches. In the process we're also swapping our 10 gallon fresh water tank for a larger tank that'll sit under the bench across the back of the trailer (the "bottom" of the "U"). (Many of the ideas I'm using are stolen from work CamperBob did on his Scamp 5er.)


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Before pic (without the cushions)


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The water tank takes up almost all the curb-side under-bench space.


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I used a sharpie to mark the bench and the vinyl floor for a reference point to help me measure my cut lines later.


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Here is the water tank with the bench removed. I'm replacing this tank with a larger one under the back bench, something I can get away with because this is a 5th wheel. (You wouldn't want to move the weight of all that water to the very back of a traditional trailer. It would make the trailer unstable for towing. If I had a traditional trailer I'd probably install two smaller tanks, one on each side as close to the axle as I could manage.)


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Here's the water pump compartment with the lid removed. You can also see the waste line from the sink and the vent from the gray tank looping up and back down through the floor. I'm moving the pump to the other side of the trailer to make as much room under the "curb side" bench seat as I can. The waste and vent lines will also be moved around somewhat for the same reason.

Today I also ordered two locking hatch covers from eBay, one 13x17 inch hatch for the street side, and a 13x24 inch hatch for the curb side bench storage.

More to come.
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Old 06-25-2008, 01:04 AM   #2
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<sigh> The inside of my trailer looks like a bomb went off inside.
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Old 06-25-2008, 06:41 PM   #3
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<sigh> The inside of my trailer looks like a bomb went off inside.
You are not alone, the bomb went off in mine last week, all the benches have been pulled, trying to get the ensolite reglued and prepped for finishing.

1 week and 12 hours to go before packing up to head off to Emily. Now I have to deal with the time bomb and weather. I feel like I'm out on the left coast with rain just about every day. How do you people out there get any work done on your trailers with all that rain?

Peter, I'm wondering why you would not put the tank(s) under the floor between the frame rails? Is there any room there in a 5th or is it already occupied with something else?
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Old 06-27-2008, 03:19 AM   #4
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Peter, I'm wondering why you would not put the tank(s) under the floor between the frame rails? Is there any room there in a 5th or is it already occupied with something else?
A couple reasons. First, the original tank was inside, so I just kinda followed suite when I planned out the install for the new larger tank. Putting it across the back of the trailer under the rearmost bench seat in my new "U" layout just kinda made sense in that context. It opens up the space under the curb side bench so much to have it across the back, and since I'm planning to put in a large curb-side access hatch, that's important.

In retrospect, installing the tank under the floor between the rails wouldn't have been practical, either. The space under the dinette is taken up with the gray waste water tank, and there trailer doesn't have enough ground clearance for commonly available 19-20 gallon tanks placed forward of that point.
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Old 06-27-2008, 04:04 AM   #5
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The trailer's still a mess inside, so it still looks like a bomb went off inside my trailer, but I'm at the point where things are starting to get put back together, so things are heading back into their storage spots now. It's sort of post-bombing-cleanup, I guess.

Here's what I've accomplished so far:


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I've moved the thermostat control from the dinette area to near the front door and installed an on/off switch for the porch light. (Easier to get to from the loft end of our 5th wheel.)


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[attachment=17320:08Jun27U...peRoutes.
JPG] I re-plumbed the space under the kitchen sink to neaten up the rats nest of plumbing for the water heater, sink, and waste line so we can actually use the storage space here. This required drilling a new hole in the side of the cabinet for the gray water waste line from the sink. The yellow cable sticking through the hole is 110v AC wiring for an outlet I'm installing in the front corner of the bench; a convenient spot to plug laptops and AC cube heaters in. There was some similar neatening work under the cabinet on the other side, too.


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I moved most of the electrical and plumbing lines up off the floor and attached them to the underside of the bench support. (This will free up floor space under the bench when I put the access hatch in, but it helped tidy up the under-sink area, too.) Note: The outside electrical socket in the picture with the yellow cables running to it will have to move under the sink when I install the hatch.


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This rats nest is the space under the street side counter where our converter and fuse box live, and it's where I moved our water pump to. While I was re-routing and re-wiring stuff I segregated the microwave and refrigerator onto their own electric circuit. Now the 'fridge, micro, and eventual "Lightning Rod" electric hot water heater add on will be on their own circuit, separate from all the trailer 110 AC outlets. Doing this will make it easier for me set things up so I can flip a switch and change the outlets from shore power to a little inverter, a 100watt, 110AC inverter that can power our little laptops and planned TV/DVD player from battery power.

Next up, final plumbing for the fresh water tank, cutting our bench seats so the larger water tank has room to pop through the bench seat walls, and putting the benches back in.
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08Jun27UnderSinkNewBenchCablePipeRoutes.JPG   08Jun27CablePipeRoutCleanup.JPG  

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Old 06-28-2008, 12:50 AM   #6
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Today I got the new fresh water tank installed and got the dinette benches notched to go around it.


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This is the old fresh water tank atop the new one. Old held about 10 gallons, the new one probably 17 gallons.


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Where the new tank goes. You can't see it, but I put the tank in-place and drew its outline on the floor.


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Measured the distance from the mark I made from the bench and onto the floor before removing the bench.


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Transposed the measurement to the street side bench.


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Drew the outline of the hole for the tank using the transposed mark as the point where the front edge will set.


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Scored the edges where the cutout line is and put some masking tape down to protect the "keep" side of the bench from being scratched while sawing the cutout.

. . . more to come . . .

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Old 06-28-2008, 01:04 AM   #7
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Peter,

Your mods continue to be amazing. I can't wait to see your latest mods in a few weeks!

-Isaac
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Old 06-28-2008, 03:11 AM   #8
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No, seriously. If you've worked with fiberglass, you know it can irritate your skin and make it itch. If you cut fiberglass, little bits of fiberglass dust get in the air, then into your lungs, where they do damage. Wear a mask!


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The bench cutout for the street side water tank. I realized after the fact that the "leg" on the left would get in the way of the plumbing and electrical lines I secured under the seat, so it came off shortly after I took this picture.


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[attachment=17341:08Jun28S...Fittings.
JPG] Curbside and streetside, respectively, here's what the tank ends look like under the installed benches. The big single hose on the left is the inlet, the hoses on the right are the overflow and feed line with a drain valve (which has an "L" you can't seen that vents through the floor). Each side has wood blocks that stop the tank from sliding right-to-left while the trailer is moving, and there's a metal strap (from the plumbing section of the hardware store) that drapes over the tank and is stretched tight and screwed to the floor to stop the tank from bouncing when the trailer's moving.


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[attachment=17343:08Jun28S...ideBench.
JPG] And the two sides of the "U." Still lots of work to do.
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Old 06-28-2008, 09:19 AM   #9
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This probably a stupid question, but how are the benches held in? Screws? Fiberglass? Bolts?
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Old 06-28-2008, 11:40 AM   #10
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This probably a stupid question, but how are the benches held in? Screws? Fiberglass? Bolts?
Removing the benches is easy. There's a "curb" kind of thing that the top back of the bench rests on (it's what I zip-tied the electric cables as well as the hot&colt water lines to in earlier pictures). In my Scamp four screws hold the top to the curb, two more go through a horizontal rib at floor level. Scamp liberally applies white silicone caulking to fill the gap between the kitchen-end of the bench and the kitchen base cabinets, and applies a more discrete, thin line of caulk across the floor. You have to use a utility knife to cut through the caulk before you can pull the bench out.
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Old 06-28-2008, 12:33 PM   #11
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Removing the benches is easy. There's a "curb" kind of thing that the top back of the bench rests on (it's what I zip-tied the electric cables as well as the hot&colt water lines to in earlier pictures). In my Scamp four screws hold the top to the curb, two more go through a horizontal rib at floor level. Scamp liberally applies white silicone caulking to fill the gap between the kitchen-end of the bench and the kitchen base cabinets, and applies a more discrete, thin line of caulk across the floor. You have to use a utility knife to cut through the caulk before you can pull the bench out.
Ah. Thanks. They can't be providing much, if any, structural support for the shell, then.
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Old 06-28-2008, 09:55 PM   #12
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Ah. Thanks. They can't be providing much, if any, structural support for the shell, then.
IMHO every little bit helps. If you've ever put up metal studs for drywall you will know what I mean. That said, If I were doing Peter's mod, I might have considered shifting the tank an inch or so streetside so only one bench had to have a large cut out and the other could have had a hole cut for the fill tube only. But hindsight is almost always different.
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Old 06-29-2008, 03:12 AM   #13
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IMHO every little bit helps. If you've ever put up metal studs for drywall you will know what I mean. That said, If I were doing Peter's mod, I might have considered shifting the tank an inch or so streetside so only one bench had to have a large cut out and the other could have had a hole cut for the fill tube only. But hindsight is almost always different.
I'm not too worried about supporting the bench. There'll be spacers under the back bench seat that rest on the water tank, and the back bench will be screwed down to the "L" rest where the table drops down to on the fiberglass benches.

And, yes, I considered cutting just one bench, but placing the tank center-back allows it to rest against the back wall as one point of support without it being rotated out of alignment.
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Old 06-29-2008, 03:40 AM   #14
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Today I:


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Made a new box to protect the gray waste and gray tank vent tubes from cargo shifting under the curbside bench while we're moving.


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Filled to old fresh water drain and vent and the gray tank vent line holes in the floor with Bondo: Covered the bottom side of the hole under the trailer with duct tape, then ladled in and putty knifed down the Bondo filler.


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Installed new LED lighting around the fan over the dinette table. The lights switch is the little red push button under the twist knob that raises the vent cover. (These are IKEA LED lights, btw. Since their voltage requirements are pretty strict I soldered a 12V regulator chip from Radio Shack into the circuit.)


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Cut a front cover for the tank. The top cardboard piece is the template I test-fit in the spot before cutting the cover. The cover is made from Masonite enameled on one side with the white enamel used on dry-erase boards.


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The tank front panel's back side.


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Panel set in place, but not installed. I used a router to cut a slot in the center so you can see the level of the water inside the tank. The inside edges of the gauge slot are painted black. Silicone caulk will fill the gaps between the panel and the bench seat fronts.
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